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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Station Life: Operation Tail Watch

If you’ve been near the Brentwood Library recently you may have seen a Vanderbilt LifeFlight helicopter land in the field in front of the building as well as all of Brentwood Fire and Rescue’s fire trucks parked in the parking lot. There was no emergency; this was a joint training operation between the two agencies. Brentwood is located in such close proximity to Vanderbilt Hospital that it isn’t often that transport by helicopter is necessary, but there are times when the additional tools and skills that LifeFlight can provide can make a tremendous difference. 

Recently Vanderbilt brought their Operation Tail Watch program to Brentwood to help refresh firefighters on safely operating around a helicopter. Topics included safely establishing a landing zone, how to help direct the helicopter in, when and how to approach the aircraft once it has landed, and when to call for a medical helicopter. Additionally, LifeFlight crew members explained the benefits and capabilities that they provide as well as the limitations of helicopter based EMS. These medical professionals carry some unique equipment and their crews are trained to the equivalent level of a second year Doctor during their Residency program. 

The helicopter provided for this training is LifeFlight’s newest helicopter, a EuroCopter EC-130, also known as LifeFlight 5. This is the fastest medical helicopter in the state and is on the cutting edge of aircraft technology. For more information about Vanderbilt LifeFlight, please visit their webpage. Please enjoy these photos from this recent training.

Crew members begin with a brief explanation of how to load a patient into the EC-130. 


One of the unique features of this aircraft is the ‘internal’ rear stabilizer.

Depending on tail winds, the single jet engine on board this aircraft can propel it to speeds in excess of 135 m.p.h.

The flight crew’s helmets sport a familiar paint scheme…

The cot used to stabilize the patient during transport can swing out to facilitate loading as well as be configured in a variety of locations inside the cabin of the aircraft depending on the needs of the patient.

Much like an ambulance, a Vanderbilt LifeFlight helicopter must carry all the medical equipment it needs to support the patient both on scene and during transport.

Of course, you can’t just land a helicopter in the middle of the city without attracting a little bit of attention. Citizens were welcomed by both BFR and the helicopter crew to come check out the aircraft. 

If you look closely, you may see the next generation of pilots taking their turn at the controls.  

The cot has been stowed for travel. The rails visible in this shot allow the cot to move from side to side, allowing access to either side of the patient. 


Brentwood Fire and Rescue thanks Vanderbilt LifeFlight for bringing their aircraft and crew to Brentwood to conduct this valuable training. While requesting LifeFlight is not a daily event in the city, it is nice to have a good working relationship with this valuable asset. Training together ensures that should a citizen ever be in need of advanced care, BFR will be prepared.